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Exercise During Pregnancy May Help Baby

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

A new study shows the benefits of exercising during pregnancy may boost fetal development.

A study conducted by researchers at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences and the University of Kansas Medical Center looked at pregnant women, ages 20 to 35. They were divided in two groups. Those in the exercise group did moderate intensity aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes three times per week. Those in the control group did not get regular exercise. The researchers then used non-invasive tests to monitor fetal development, breathing and body movements, as well as fetal heart rate and autonomic nervous system control.

The main aim of the study was to determine if exercise during pregnancy resulted in cardiovascular benefits to the fetus. The secondary goal was to determine if exercise during pregnancy increased fetal breathing movements, a marker of well-being and of functional development of the respiratory system.

The study found several things:

  • Fetal heart rate was significantly lower in the exercise group during both breathing and non-breathing movement periods.
  • Fetal short-term and overall heart rate variability were higher in the exercise group during breathing movements.
  • The exercise-exposed fetuses had higher measure of cardiovascular control during breathing movements.
  • No significant differences in measures of cardiovascular control between the two groups were noted during periods of fetal non-breathing, and there were no group or breathing differences in sympathetic heart rate control.

“These findings suggest a potential benefit of maternal exercise on fetal development because of the link between fetal breathing movements and the developing autonomic nervous system,” concluded the researchers.

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